Highlights From the Forum
March 18 through 24, 2001
(click on the number to go directly to that message)
|Cat's Paw Rubber||Bob Perry|
|The Hiller Forum||Jerry Hamilton|
|The Hiller Forum||Walt Holm|
|Finding Small Objects in Deep Water||Doug Brutlag|
|Changing Winds of the Pacific||Ron Bright|
|Altitude?||Herman de Wulf|
|Nauticos and the Hiller forum||Mike Zuschlag|
|Re: Changing Winds of the Pacific||Phil Tanner|
|Speeding up for a Headwind?||Oscar Boswell|
|Long's Headwind||Doug Brutlag|
|Re: Fuel Expansion||Mike Zuschlag|
|Fuel Consumption||Herman De Wulf|
|Re: Altitude||Tom Van Hare|
|Re: Fuel Consumption||Gary Payne|
|Speeding up in a Headwind||Dick Pingrey|
|Intersecting the LOP||Herman De Wulf|
|Thermal Expansion -- With a Few Kind Words for Elgen Long||Oscar Boswell|
|Speeding Up Into a Sea of Confusion||Oscar Boswell|
|Re: Intersecting the LOP||Herman De Wulf|
|Headwind and Airspeed Calculations||Dick Pingrey|
Good point. I think it's possible that AE/FN could have waded through water mixed with some gas/oil from a non-ideal landing on the beach of Niku. Assuming the validity of post-loss radio messages from the downed plane (an engine running), under that scenario one would think that the plane had not "crashed" but was largely intact. There could have been extensive damage anyway (landing gear,etc), as has been debated on this Forum at length, but I don't see burst or leaking gas/oil tanks consistent with engine(s) running for long.
From my perspective, though, even if he/she waded through pools of gas/oil, it is mixed with water, and she/they undoubtedly moved onto dry sand, which would wipe off much/all of the residual oil, and gas would evaporate. One wonders, then, whether there would be enough exposure to give significant dimensional change in a Cats Paw heel.
Swelling is not an instantaneous process with that kind of rubber. If the shoe part were soaked in oil over time, yes. Otherwise, no.
In any event, you raise a good point about a change that could have occurred.
These are my impressions from the presentation today at the Hiller Aviation Museum. Other TIGHAR members were there and, I'm sure, will add their perceptions.
Overall, this struck me as a major public relations announcement. This was a reasonably professionally put together program, including an experienced MC with THE VOICE, who made everyone's credentials sound impeccable. Elgen Long played second fiddle to Nauticos and Steve Lyons, the NOVA consultant (who is now apparently an independent producer). Elgen presented his basic lost-at-sea scenario, then Lyons summarized a Cal Tech analysis refining it, and Nauticos provided an overview of how their special expertise pin points the most likely crash location and gave an example of how they would get it using their recent experience in finding a submarine the Israelis have been searching 31 years for (note they have also found F-16's and, I suspect, various missiles launched from airplanes or submarines as they do classified navy work). Nauticos is dead serious about finding the plane and, as THE VOICE said, they have never failed to find their objective in any previous attempt (and per Dave Jourdan of Nauticos don't plan to on this venture).
This was not an event to ask for funding. While a three million cost was bandied about, they said the backing would be from private sources. Based on their responses, it seems to me that Nauticos and Nova are running the show and have been seeking venture capital backing to make this a profit making project, as in, "if we find the plane we all get rich." My guess is they already have some of the funding and have gone public to flush out the rest.
The initial search effort (the 3 mil) will be to locate the plane and establish it as authentic. Then they will seek additional funds to go back and retrieve it for public display.
The logical support for Long's head wind assumptions, which are key to his analysis, were made clear to me for the first time. Not by him, interestingly, but by Lyons who was speaking from a professionally done slide presentation which was clearly part of their pitch used with private investors. They claim four reports of winds aloft (generally around the 8,000 foot level) which came from Lae, Nauru, Honolulu, and the Itasca, all indicate nose winds of about 25mph. That's how they support the strong head winds along the total flight route. It was also made clear that they believe AE increased her speed to 160 mph, instead of 150 (obviously burning more gas). Long said that's what the Lockheed manual calls for in head wind conditions.
Oh yes, TIGHAR was mentioned -- by Lyons as canceling his Nova TV project (which eventually led him to Long) and as the only other competing AE theory specifically referenced by name (of course they demonstrated how the Cal Tech analysis conclusively proves not enough fuel was available to reach Gardner or any other island). To the casual observer, this was an impressive bit of song and dance. I bet they get the funding.
blue skies, -jerry
On Saturday, 17 Mar 01, the Hiller Museum in San Carlos, CA presented a forum with Elgen Long, Steve Lyons, Reid Dennis, and Nauticos. The purpose of the forum was to outline their plans to do an underwater search for Amelia Earhart's aircraft in the area around Howland Island, and the rationale behind choosing the particular search area. The forum was well attended, with probably over 200 people present. There were a few TIGHARs there, including myself, Kris Tague, Jerry Hamilton, and Don Jordan, and a number of familiar faces whose names I don't remember. The notes below are my recollection of what took place; the other attendees may have a slightly different impression. Mangled names are my fault.
The program began with the introduction of the MC for the afternoon, a Mr. Gordon Bowman-Jones. Whomever organized the event certainly picked the right speaker, as Mr Bowman-Jones was clearly a talented public speaker and salesman. By the end of the afternoon he was certainly going to have everyone convinced that this team had the answers to where Amelia's flight ended.
Mr Bowman-Jones introduced the presenters for the day:
Elgen Long was the first speaker. Elgen is not a particularly dynamic speaker, but comes across as very sincere. The material he presented was similar to that given in his book tour last year, if anyone saw him at the Western Aerospace museum in Oakland. He spoke for a couple of minutes about his book, and the "new data" that makes the conclusions in his book more accurate than earlier efforts by other authors. The new data that he mentioned consisted primarily of the Chater report, and notes from an AP reporter (Hanslip or something like that?) who was in the radio room of the Itasca.
The short (~10 minute) film that Elgen put together in 1989 was shown. This film lays out the fundamentals of what he believes. Basically, it combines the recorded signal strengths of the Earhart messages received by the Itasca, an analysis of probable navigation errors, and the probable visibility conditions on the morning that she was lost, to come up with an area in which she must have ditched. This area is west of Howland island. There was no mention in the film about fuel consumption calculations -- the assumption is that since she stopped sending messages, and there was a message recorded in the logs of "1/2 hour of fuel left" one hour before her last transmission, that she ran out of fuel shortly after her last recorded message.
Interesting quote at the end of Elgen's talk: "What was theory is now proven beyond a doubt."
Gordon the MC came back at this point. He added that Elgen had funded a bottom survey of the ocean around Howland, and that the bottom is flat and featureless --- perfect for finding a small object such as an airplane with sonar.
The next speaker, Reid Dennis, was introduced. Reid described himself as "not an expert on Amelia Earhart, but a well-informed amateur."
Reid flew the Grumman Albatross that escorted Linda Finch on her around-the-world flight. He showed several slides of Finch's Lockheed 10E, both pre- and post-restoration, including a publicity shot of Finch in a recreation of one of AE's poses with the aircraft ("Here's Linda doing what she does best"). Reid showed several more slides showing the route used by AE to go around the world, and contrasted it with the route that was used by Finch's flight --- they differed quite a bit due to the overall lack of airfields in 1937. Finch did not land on Howland as there is no airstrip there today, but overflew it while flying from Tarawa to Kanton.
Reid then proceeded to talk about Fred Noonan and how he likely navigated the flight. He started off by saying that "Noonan had a problem with alcohol," at which point I was surprised that Jerry didn't blow a gasket. He did go on to call Noonan the "world's best aerial navigator."
Reid presented a chart showing the leg from Lae to Howland. Intermediate points were shown at Buka (?), Nukumanu, the USS Ontario, and a "Point X" a couple of hundred miles from Howland. This "Point X" was listed as being the intersection of the equator and the 180 degree meridian, and is supposedly where they would have been around sunrise. Reid made some comments about how Navy pilots in WW2 would routinely navigate back to their carriers from a couple hundred miles away, and that at sunrise Noonan would have known how far "north, south, east, or west" he was from the "Point X." No word on how Noonan would have used the sunrise for anything more than a line-of-position, or why the 180 meridian has any particular significance (after all, the prime meridian through Greenwich is a purely arbitrary selection). I think Reid has a somewhat different concept of navigation than I do.
Reid commented that the navigational re-creation was based upon "The last flight of Frederick Noonan," by a USMC navigational officer whose name I didn't catch.
There were some aerial photos of Howland Island presented, as well as some photos from the inside of Finch's plane. He made some final comments on the ditching characteristics of a Lockheed 10E, which he felt would be very bad. It was his opinion that the airplane would dig into the water if landed power-off, and the thin sheetmetal in the nose would collapse, incapacitating the pilot with a wall of water.
Steve Lyons, the next speaker, was introduced. Steve used to be the senior editor of program development (or something like that) of Nova.
Steve started with some PR about Nova, and then introduced the topic about which he was going to speak: What evidence is there that Amelia ran out of gas? This perked up my attention, since it is a topic in which I am very interested. He re-introduced the team that was working to put together the search (Elgen, Nova, Nauticos, etc.), and there was a new name on the list: Fred Culick, a professor of aeronautical engineering at Cal Tech.
Steve gave a summary of how the team was put together, starting with the failed effort to have Nova put together a show on TIGHAR's efforts to find AE. After this fell through, Steve met Elgen and Marie Long, and was impressed with the amount of research that they had done. So he tried to get Nova to do a show on Elgen's work. They needed to get someone to check Elgen's calculations, and for this they found Fred Culick at Cal Tech. Fred verified that Elgen's navigation and fuel consumption numbers appeared correct, so Steve went looking for an underwater search company that could handle this kind of effort. He found Nauticos, briefed them, and they agreed to join the team. The team is now raising funds to proceed with the underwater search.
Elgen's hypothesis hinges on the idea that AE ran out of fuel shortly after her last transmission. Therefore, Fred's analysis of the Lockheed fuel consumption would be critical for deciding whether to press forward with the search. This analysis resulted in Fred writing a paper entitled "Analysis of Amelia Earhart's Final Flight --- July 2, 1937." The conclusion of this paper was that Amelia, once arriving in the vicinity of Howland, did not have adequate fuel to reach any other island besides Howland or Baker. Thus, TIGHAR's hypothesis (of landing at Gardner/Nikumaroro), or flying west to the Marshalls or Gilberts is effectively ruled out.
Fred's starting point for the analysis was a 1988 article by Roy Blay in the Lockheed Horizons magazine, analyzing the fuel consumption of Earhart's aircraft, based upon Kelly Johnson's tests. The article concluded that she had enough fuel to fly for 24 hours, which would be sufficient fuel to reach Nikumaroro. I was not aware of this article and will try to round up a copy of it, since I am doing some work for Lockheed and can probably get access to their libraries.
Fred corrected "problems" in Blay's article based upon factors that were mentioned in Elgen's book:
Steve showed a slide summarizing the conclusions of Fred's paper. It appears that Fred has analyzed a number of different scenarios, each with a slightly different set of assumptions. Virtually every scenario ends up with an endurance in the neighborhood of 20-22 hours. I liked the format of the conclusions of the paper (analyzing different sets of assumptions), although obviously I haven't been able to check the contents themselves. The conclusion they left the audience with was that Amelia would not have had the fuel to proceed to Gardner or any other land. If she couldn't find Howland or Baker, then she would have had to ditch the aircraft.
The final team players that were introduced were Dave Jourdan and Tom Dettweiler of Nauticos. They are both ex-submariners. Dave is a USNA grad and founded Nauticos in 1986. Tom is a Purdue grad, did a stint as the science officer on the Calypso, and has now been with Nauticos for 11 years. He runs their operations.
Dave was the first speaker. He started with a joke about how with the all the work that Elgen and others have done, "we have the easy job." Then he laughed and said that this was not so, that the current search grid is too large to effectively cover. This is a common problem on the jobs that Nauticos does, and they specialize in a technique called "re-navigation," where they use computers to analyze all of the existing data about the target to attempt to shrink the search area. Apparently this has been very successful in the past, and Dave listed some of the successes that they have had: the Japanese carrier Kaga from the Battle of Midway, the Japanese sub I-52, and the Israeli sub Dakar.
Dave spent the rest of his talk showing how they had found the Dakar. This sub was purchased from the British by the Israelis in 1968, and sank near Crete on its maiden voyage. Evidently the Israelis are serious about never leaving dead soldiers on a battlefield, and they had been looking for this sub ever since. In 1999 they hired Nauticos to seach some more for the sub. Nauticos went through the "re-nav" procedure and managed to find the sub. There was lots of very impressive video showing both the operations on the deck of the ship, and pictures of the sunken sub.
Tom then got up to speak for a while, talking about how they would recover the Electra. He showed a lot of video of operations on the Dakar, where the Israeli government hired them a second time, this time to salvage the "sail" of the submarine. Using remotely-operated vehicles, they attached lift points to the sail, and hauled it up ( I think the depth was in the neighborhood of 10,000'). The piece weighed two tons, and it was impressive to see it hauled to the surface. There was also talk about how you sample the water and ocean floor around the wreck to try to understand the environment that the wreck is sitting in, so you can better evaluate its structural condition before raising it.
This concluded the talks, and there was a short Q&A session afterwards. Someone asked about getting more information on Nauticos. Their web site is www.nauticos.com. It was asked what TIGHAR was doing right now. The panel basically said they didn't know (the entire afternoon was pleasantly free of cheap shots against TIGHAR. Several of the participants during the day mentioned TIGHAR, but said words to the effect of " they have their ideas, and we have ours..."). Someone asked whether Amelia had any contact with the USS Ontario, and the panel said no. One wonders how many people put 2 and 2 together from this question, since Reid's navigation presentation had shown the Ontario as a navigation waypoint.
I asked about the availability of Fred Culick's paper, analyzing the endurance of Amelia's Electra. It is not published and not available on the web, and Steve Lyons referred to it as "confidential". Since this report is the centerpiece of their hypothesis, this news struck me as being a little odd -- although I can't say that I was surprised.
There were questions asked as to the schedule of the search. After a roundabout reply, they basically said that they were still raising funds. When someone asked how they were raising money, it was emphasized that this was not a charitable effort, looking for donations. They didn't say anything more than this, and cut the discussion off. It left me thinking that they are looking for a commercial backer, perhaps with the recovered airplane to be marketed to cover the costs.
This concluded the program. A bunch of us stayed around to chat afterwards, and then headed home.
My summary: The Long/Nova/Nauticos hypothesis depends upon the assumption that Amelia was flying into a headwind, forcing her to increase her power settings, which decreased her endurance. Fred Culick has done an extensive analysis of this situation, but the team is not releasing his paper, so it cannot be independently checked. Nauticos (if funded) will attempt to narrow the search grid so they can cover the area at reasonable cost. It will be fascinating to see the results if the search proceeds.
I remember it was last year(or year before) a group successfully located and recovered Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 capsule from the Atlantic where it sank after prematurely blowing the hatch & filling with water. I cannot tell how they managed to locate it and bring it up intact but it proves that small objects can be located and recovered in deep water.
One thing Liberty Bell had going for it was that it had tohave been built like a Panzer tank to survive the rigors of a launch, reentry, & ocean splashdown. Airplanes are also built to take alot of punishment but not like spacecraft. If AE's Electra ditched I cannot believe it could do so totally intact.
Good luck to the Nauticos if they do find something to recover from the deep blue. If they manage to find an airplane to bring to the surface I vote we have a TIGHAR pool and take bets on what depth the sucker breaks apart.
Nautico's presentation sounds part interesting and part amusing. Reid Dennis' comment of Linda Finch's publicity pix,"doing what she does best" is particularily true. It most certainly wasn't her aviation skills. This venture reeks of a publicity-for-profit scheme, just like all the others. I don't think Nauticos really cares if they find they find the Electra or not. If this flies, they get paid regardless. Time is very much money in this case.
Interesting how a fuel burn scenario analysis of a 64 year old airplane should be classified.
Let the games begin!
Hmmmm, well, the Liberty Bell 7 was in much shallower water, and the search area was very tightly constrained as there were a lot of people watching while it went down. Even so, it took a long time to find it, and many many years of number crunching and fund raising to set it all up.
Based on Walt Holm's nice digest of the Hiller Museum event, the sine qua non of Long's theory is the unaccounted headwinds encountered by Amelia. Long now relies on weather reports of 20-30 mph ENE that contributed most to her failing to get to Howland.
This is interesting as the winds must be getting stronger or he found "new data".
In a LA Times article (28 Jun 87) Long cites the Itasca's weather report of 7MPH headwinds and uses that in his calculations. The other contributing factors were a faulty (4 degree deviation) compass, and Howland's erroneous "chart position" used by AE. In this analysis, Long says if you add the 6 mile difference in Howland's position, the seven mile headwinds and the deviation, you come up with a 17 miles shortfall--- far enough away that Howland was invisible. Then shortly after her last transmission, she ditched into the Pacific.
Thus it seems the winds are getting stronger.
According to the reports we now get from TIGHAR members who were at the Hiller Aviation Museum presentation, Elgen Long and those who believe in his crashed and sank theory say that AE encountered a constant headwind of 25 mph on 2 July 1937. I think they should first prove this.
But suppose it is true, how do we know that AE flew at 8,000 ft. against that headwind as Long says?
And now I'm speaking from personal experience. I have never flown around the world and I have never flown across an ocean. But I have been flying over land into headwinds most of my flying career as all pilots do. We all know that wind increases with altitude. If you want to make better time or get farther, it is wise to descend to a lower altitude where you'll encounter less headwind.
I remember overtaking an aircraft of comparable performance to mine one day by flying lower, leaving a friend up there battling against the headwind while I was flying faster at the same rpm settings. I even have been in a situation comparable to AE's (relatively speaking), with fuel low and still a long way to go. To save fuel I descended because at low altitude there is less headwind, resulting in better ground speed, which can be traded in for lower rpm and an increase in range.
I do not pretend to be a better pilot. I do think AE knew what all of us know. She was even more aware of fuel economy. Why else did she leave all that gear behind?
Therefore I find it hard to believe she has been battling against a 25 mph or whatever headwind at 8,000 feet if she could get better fuel economy at lower altitudes. Remember FN was monitoring their progress all the time and must have been fully aware of their ground speed and therefore of the headwind they encountered en route.
And how does Long know that AE increased airspeed to 160 mph? Oscar Boswell provided this forum with the Kelly Johnson Lockheed 10E test flight figures in the Lockheed report 465. They indicate that the 10E, although more powerful than the 10A, was faster than the 10A only at lower power settings from 42% down. This setting corresponds with a speed of around 160 mph or 140 kts. Being "faster" translates into more economical at low settings. I thought someone had already calculated that AE's speed had been 150 kts (correct me if I'm wrong).
I think the Hiller Aviation Museum meeting raises more questions than it provides answers. Before I buy Elgen Long's theory I would first like to know at what altitudes AE really flew.
>They claim four reports of winds aloft (generally around the 8,000 foot
level) which came from Lae,
Walt Holm notes:
>Elgen feels that Amelia was flying into a headwind, advanced her power
settings as would be
And Jerry adds:
>Long said that's what the Lockheed manual calls for in head wind conditions.
In a UPI article
Well, best of luck to Nauticos. That said, here's my first reaction to their reasons on why Earhart ran out of fuel shortly after reaching the Howland vicinity:
1. Headwinds. I'd sure like to see the documentation for those reported headwinds. Does anyone know how they'd get wind speeds and directions at 8000' in 1937?
2. Higher airspeed. I'd sure like to see that Lockheed manual. I don't understand how increasing your airspeed in level flight will *ever* increase your range in a headwind. I seem to remember this being kicked around the forum a while ago. What was the consensus then?
3. Warm fuel. I calculate that if Earhart filled up with 85°F fuel then she left with 60 lb less fuel than if she filled up with 60°F fuel. That's less than 1% of the total fuel on board. You know what? I don't think anyone knows Earhart's fuel on board to within 1%. From the Chater report we know she took on 654 imperial gallons, but the 1100 gal total appears to be an estimate. Chater says she had "at least 40 gallons of 100 octane fuel" in an 81 gal tank (emphasis added). Well, if it was actually 50 lb, that makes up the 1%. If Nauticos' method requires knowing Earhart's fuel on board to within 1%, then they better get awfully lucky indeed.
I apologize if I've unearthed any horses buried when Elgen's book came out.
Really enjoying the reports on the Hiller meeting on this side of the Atlantic --- thanks.
This might be a simplistic point -- it's a "would have", and I'm not a navigator -- but I have a problem with the theory that headwinds left the flight dangerously short of fuel on arrival in the vicinity of Howland.
Wouldn't a headwind for a large part of the flight which risked leaving them so exposed at the end just be the flip side of a tailwind which would have given them a safety margin big enough to get back to Lae from beyond half-way to Howland? If they had built in several hours of fuel safety, why would they push on while knowing that the safety margin was being eroded to the extent of endangering their lives?
Conversely, if they faced an increase in headwind only when too far past the point of no return, doesn't this still leave them with too much fuel to have run out at the point the Long theory suggests?
The availability of authentic Lockheed cruise data in Report 465 makes it possible to address the concept of speeding up for a headwind, as mentioned in Elgen Long's book.
A review of Mr. Long's statements makes it clear that his idea is that one can achieve greater efficiency into a headwind by increasing cruise speed by an amount equal to 40% of the headwind. (Forty percent of the 26.5 mph headwind = 10.6, and he calls for a 10.5 mph increase, from 150 to 160.5 mph.) He cites Lockheed's Report 466 (operating instructions on the 10E), which I have not seen, but I will say that the Export Instructions on the 10A contain no references to headwinds that I noted.
In any case, it is obvious that one can postulate an extreme situation in which speeding up helps against a headwind, but that is the rarest of exceptions. The correct solution in most cases is to slow down to achieve greater efficiency (which would be the expected effect of Kelly Johnson's instructions to lean the mixture more stringently).
Now that we have performance charts on the 10E, let's look at the question for a minute. Since Mr. Long dealt with a headwind in the 26 mph range and speeds of 150 to 160 or so, I want to stick pretty close to those numbers. The closest ones on the 10E chart are the 1000 foot 200 hp (151 mph) and 250 hp (162 mph) cruise figures.
Assume a headwind of 27.5 mph (40% of that = exactly 11 mph). Fuel consumption at 250 hp per engine is 40 gph; fuel consumption at 200 hp is 32 gph. Assume you have 160 gallons to burn. That gives 5 hours at 200 hp and 4 hours at 250 hp.
If cruise speed is 151 and the headwind is 27.5, groundspeed = 123.5. In 5 hours, you will go 616.5 miles. If you increase airspeed to 162, groundspeed is 134.5, and in 4 hours you go only 538 miles.
If you have a 100 mph headwind and increase speed from 151 (@200 hp - 32 gph) to 191 (@412 hp - 71 gph) at 1000 feet, the technique produces 5 x 51 = 255 miles at 151 mph airspeed and 91 x 2.25 = only 204.75 miles at 191.
It doesn't work.
Of course, you can always postulate an extreme case to prove that it does work. If you have a 150 mph headwind and speed up from 151 to 162 you get 4 x 12 = 48 miles, which beats 5 x 1 = 5 miles at 151.
If there really was anything in the Lockheed 10E Operating Instructions that suggested this technique, it was bad advice. Recent postings mention a page from those instructions (presumably Report 466) being exhibited at the Hiller Aviation Museum presentation. Can anyone furnish us a copy?
I cannot believe for one nanosecond that AE would get a continuous 25 MHP head for the entire length of a 2500 mile trip. You are going too many miles through what is very likely changing weather systems and the winds are going to change with it. I don't want to start a discussion on meterology This is wishful thinking on someone's part to match their theory.
This continous 25 MPH wind sounds more like flatulence than fact.
Doug Brutlag #2335
Anthony Lealand wrote:
>By my calculations the plane would have been short of 17 gallons if the
In startling contrast, I wrote:
>I calculate that if Earhart filled up with 85°F fuel then she left with 60
Just in case anyone cares about this glaring discrepancy of 7 gallons, I used .00095 rather than .0012 for my expansion coefficient. I got it from the web. Can't vouch for its accuracy.
Furthermore, I applied the expansion coefficient only to the 654 imperial gallons added at Lae, not the entire 1000 US gallon capacity (or 1100 gallons reported on board in the Chater report) and I didn't allow for expansion of the fuel tanks themselves. That is, I interpreted Gordon Bowman-Jones to mean that the fuel was loaded on board after it warmed to 85°F, as opposed to assuming the Electra was up to the brim with 1100 gallons of 60°F fuel that subsequently expanded and overflowed.
Either way, the conclusion is the same: a fuel deficiency due to temperature is within the range of error of the estimated fuel on board. It's not worth sweating over.
In the light of the recent Hiller Aviation Museum presentation I think it is the right moment to look again at the Lockheed 10E fuel consumption and check whether TIGHAR is right and the Nauticos people are wrong. This exercise may have been done here before. But since the Long people and Nauticos believe AE/FN ran out of fuel and crashed while TIGHAR believes AE could have landed at Gardner Island (Nikumaroro), I feel we should go over our sums again to keep in touch with facts and for the benefit of recent forumites.
So I didn't read again all that Ric has published before but I took out my Airtour Flight Computer and did my own sums.
Having flown in the Lockheed 10A myself I know its economic cruising speed is 140 kts IAS (which interestingly is 160 mph). Despite its more powerful engines performance of the Lockheed 10E differs from the 10A only in the 10E being a bit faster at lower power settings which makes it better suited for long distance flights. The 10A and the 10E were aerodynamically almost identical, the 10E having bigger engines which produce a little more drag but both aircraft have roughly the same performance.
However at 140 kts the 10E uses only 250 of its 600 available horsepower or 41.6 %. This corresponds with fuel consumption figures cited here before as being 42 or 43 %.
Taking off in overweight AE's 10E had to fly faster initially. I think it was Kelly Johnson who provided the following fuel consumption figures (US gallons):
This means that after 10 hours of flying AE had used 567 gallons. Since she took off with 1,100 gallons she had then 533 gallons remaining in the tanks. At 42 gallons per hour this would last for another 12.36 hours, give or take a few minutes because of ambient temperature when filling up.
I do not know what speeds correspond to the herebove mentioned fuel consumptions which were calculated for maintaining 5,000 ft. If anyone on the forum does, please let me know. And we have little information on wind either. In other words, where were AE & FN after having flown 10 hours and where would the next 12.36 hours get them against an unknown headwind?
Long says there was a 25 mph. headwind all the time. If he means knots, that would have reduced the 10E's ground speed to 115 kts. If Long is right about the headwind I am convinced (but I can't prove this of course) that FN would have been aware of this from his navigator's position and I am also convinced that AE would have thought it wise to seek altitudes where they would encounter less headwind to increase their range. Descending to perhaps 2,000 ft could have reduced headwind by 50 % and increase their ground speed.
The only information we have is AE's first approximate position report at 18.14 GMT saying they were 200 miles out. Having taken off from Lae at exactly 00.00 GMT they had been 18.14 hours in the air. According to the above mentioned figures, they would have burned 901 gallons of fuel.
Cruising along at 43 gallons per hour, at 19.42 GMT and 64.5 gallons later, AE said : "We should be on you but cannot see you". At that time they had been 19.45 hours in the air and the fuel remaining would have been: 134.5 gallons. I guess that is why AE said "Fuel is getting low".
However, with that amount of fuel left they could fly another 3.07 hours". In other words : AE and FN had covered the 2,556 miles in 19.3 hours, which gives an average ground speed of 132.4 knots. Whatever Long says, they were only one or one and a half hours late on their ETA and only 8 mph slow on their IAS because of headwinds if AE stuck to 140 kts IAS (Long says 160 mph) for best range performance, which is what I believe.
We don't know how much time was lost looking for Howland flying up and down their Line of Position (LOP) of 157/337. But had they flown down the LOP at 157° right away, with wind ENE (let's say 10 kts from 70° at 1,000 ft) their ground speed at 43 gallons per hour would have been exactly 140 knots. Which means that after three more hours they would have covered 420 miles.
The only uncertainty we have is the time lost looking for Howland when they discovered it wasn't where it should have been. Let's say they lost 20 minutes. That gave them 2.47 hours left. Flying at 140 knots they would have covered 414 miles in the next three hours. I don't have a detailed map of the area. But where does that land them?
Alan Caldwell wrote:
> Herman,the same thought struck me. First of all I have never
At the time in the world of aerial navigation, this was called, "hunting the wind", and was not only a common practice, but was considered essential for virtually all commercial traffic. It was, as I recall, the practice of the Pan Am Clipper service, and I have read numerous books where the captain of the "ship" (meaning the Clipper) would talk about being advised by the navigator to climb or dive to seek better winds.
One particular commentcomes to mind, regarding that when a plane has an airspeed of something like 140 kts, the difference in arrival times between finding a low altitude 20 kt tailwind vs. a higher altitude 20 kt headwind were considerable, even though enjoying a higher true airspeed at the higher altitude. Doing the math on it really makes it clear, though I won't bore anyone with figures.
As for a constant headwind over a 20 hour flight, I think that it would almost have to involve an act of God for that to happen. Too bizarre to even contemplate.
Thomas Van Hare
These points are to my mind one of the crucial considerations of what may have happened to Earhart and Co. It's impossible to know for sure how much time was spent searching for Howland but, if TIGHAR's fuel estimates are regarded as reasonably accurate, then it is not difficult at all to estimate how much time they COULD have spent looking for Howland. The reported radio strength, if memory serves, indicates that AE/FN were likely no farther than 80 miles at closest approch. Obviously if they'd arrived at the LOP to the NW of Howland, they would have seen it or Baker on a drive to the SE. So, I'm wondering if someone could make it simple for this non-pilot and gauge how much fuel they'd have had remaining had the intended destination acutally BEEN Gardner by way of Howland? Say they take off from Lae, fly all night to get to Howland and turn right down the LOP to reach Gardner. The fuel likely remaining on arrival will tell roughly how much extra time they could have spent searching for Howland. Does it seem a reasonable amount of time? It's important to remember also that every mile spent searching wrong direction is two miles before you can search the right direction. 20 minutes NW up the LOP would use an hour's worth of fuel before you get the same distance to the SE (crosswinds, headwinds and tailwinds notwithstanding and being too difficult for me to consider--again, I ain't no pilot). And AE did report they were looking north AND south. I don't think you need Elgen Long's freakish 20 hour headwind to use up the fuel when it may simply be a case of two desperate people trying their darndest to find their destination and delaying too long in the search until there was simply no hope of reaching any land any where.
I've been a follower of the forum for a long time and find the discussions and considerations to be fascinating and sometimes infuriating. Since I'm not a TIGHAR member I generally keep my mouth shut (I think I've posted someting only one time before). This question of how long AE/FN COULD have spent searching for Howland and STILL made Gardner seems a central one though. I have to admit that while I find the TIGHAR theory to be logical and the evidence collected so far compelling, I still think the Electra wound up in the drink someplace to the SE of Howland and NW of Gardner. Otherwise reasonable will behave very strangely in times of stress, e.g. people hiding under beds or in closest when the building they're in is burning. Squirrely, sure, but it happens. They may well have just spent too long searching for Howland before considering any other possibility. Since I am admittedly a member of the Any Idiot Artifact club, I am curious as to whose bones ended up on Gardner. I don't feel obliged to prove they were NOT AE's though. I don't necessarily espouse that it was someone else, but it COULD have been. TIGHAR maintains it WAS AE so it becomes TIGHAR's job to make the claim stick. I guess I'm a bit of a skeptic at this point, but I hope I'm not perceived as one of the contentious ones. I'd LOVE to see the mystery solved and have no particular agenda about it. I guess I remain critical not because of what TIGHAR has found, but why MORE has NOT been found. Tantalizing as all the clues have been thus far it is the totality of all of them together that seems to suggest that AE/FN might have ended up at Gardner. Any one alone is merely a curiosity and not a single one of them is conclusive (at least to me).
I remain therefore
Going faster into a headwind is an effective way to deal with a headwind problem but only to the extent that it does not adversely affect fuel consumption and over all endurance excessively. The fuel burn vs airspeed curve is a parabolic curve and as long as the airplane is flown over the relatively flat portion of the curve fuel consumption is not greatly affected by flying faster than the max range airspeed. If you fly on the fast side you allow the least time for the headwind to have its effect on the airplanes ground speed. If you fly on the slow side you increase the time the wind will have its effect so that even though you are in the air longer you don't cover as many ground miles. Long's problem is his assumption that the airplane was flown much faster than would be normal or practical. You can't increase the speed by 40% of the headwind unless it keeps you on the flat portion of the curve. In other words, 40% of a 10 kt headwind might be fine but 40% of a 30 kt wind wouldn't work. Rather than a percent of headwind the airspeed can be increased only to the point where the increased drag and fuel consumption have a relatively small effect on over all endurance. I suspect it would be no more than a 5 kt airspeed increase for the 10E. One would have to look at the fuel consumption vs airspeed curve to know how much increase is practical but certainly flying faster into a headwind and flying slower with a tailwind are well established procedures that work.
Note: Max range is the furthest possible distance traveled in still air while max endurance is staying in the air for the longest time. You go fewer miles in still air flying max endurance than flying max range power settings. I think Oscar was confusing the two when he wrote his article titled "Speeding up for a headwind".
If Elgen Long and the Nauticos people believe Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan crashed in the sea and sank I find this difficult to believe because fuel consumption calculations indicate otherwise. And if the artifacts found on Gardner, both by Gallagher and by TIGHAR, are indeed related to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan the I think it is time to look again at the fuel consumption and see if it was at all possible for them to reach Gardner.
It was. According to my calculations they had 134.5 gallons left when they were over where they thought they would find Howland. Where were they really?
Let's recalculate the point where they most probably intercepted the 337/157 LOP. 134.5 gallons at 43 gph would theoretically last them for another 3.07 hours, give or take a few minutes. If the radio reports are anything to go by -- and as The Wombat reminds -- they would have been flying up and down the LOP for about one hour. That means they would have had two hours of gas left when they abandoned the search. There are two options. Either AE continued down the LOP on the 157 radial at the 43 gph setting giving her the 140 kts IAS or, no longer having a headwind to cope with, she could have throttled down to 38 gph for greater economy to make sure they got to the Phoenix Islands. Apparently in one of these two scenario's they found Gardner. At a setting from 43 gph the Electra would fly 140 knots IAS. The wind (as provided by Itasca) did not affect its ground speed. Reducing power to 38 gph her ground speed would have been something like 153 knots because of the Lockheed 10E peculiarity of becoming a little faster than the 10A at lower power settings. In the first scenario AE would have covered some 280 nautical miles to Gardner. In the second scenario she would have covered 306 nautical miles. Given the fact that there was fuel left to keep the radio going for some time after landing, they were probably a bit farther to the south than the figures I mention.
Unfortunately I do not possess a map of the sea area in the Kiribati area and I am not sure of the exact distance between Howland Island and Gardner Island. I found a map on the internet, the scale of which I'm not sure of. Therefore I decided to give it a try and to the best of my ability measured the distance on the map in centimeters, converting the figures to nautical miles (oops !). I know this is not the most accurate way of calculating things but it's the only one available to me at the time.
I came up with a distance of 349 nautical miles separating Howland and Gardner. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong. If anyone has a reliable map, please do the exercise over again with the correct distances.
Anyway, AE/FN either intersected the LOP at less than 280 nautical miles from Gardner or at less than 306 nautical miles. This translates into them either intersecting the LOP at around 70 or at around 43 nautical miles southeast of Howland. Since they searched for Howland for about one hour, one can assume that from the intersecting point they turned northwest for perhaps 15 minutes on the 337 radial, made a rate 1 turn and flew back on the radial 157 for 30 minutes. If they began their search at the point 70 miles southeast of Howland, the next 15 minutes back on the radial 337 would bring them to a point about 35 nautical miles from the island. If they began their search from the intersecting point at 43 miles, they would have come to within 8 miles. In both scenarios this would explain for the good radio reception at Itasca. One can only wonder why they didn't see Howland from a distance of 8 miles. Therefore I assume they intersected the LOP rather at 70 miles and never got any closer to Howland than 35 miles, which explains why there was give good radio reception. At that range they didn't see Howland. This must have been when AE said : "We must be on you but cannot see you".
They believed to be on Howland at 19.30 according to the radio log. Flying 337° for 15 minutes, then 157° for the next 30 minutes and back on 337° 15 minutes on their search pattern would have brought them back the same distance from Howland as where they began their search. Half an hour later, at 20.43 when the last radio call was heard, they apparently gave up. By that time FN had probably calculated it would be safe to use the remaining fuel to fly to the Phoenix Islands. He would have told her to maintain the 157° radial. The only snag I find with this scenario is why AE did not declare their intention in a blind transmission. Perhaps she may have concluded that nobody was listening anyway.
I do not pretend I know what happend on 2 July 1937. But starting from the latest fuel consumption figures I tried to reconstruct the facts as best I can. If anyone finds I'm mistaken, please feel free to comment and to do the calculation all over again in possession of a real map and the correct distances. Remember that I used Kelly Johnson's figures.
In response to Chris Kennedy's question, I am sorry to say that I do not have any information on "the actual performance of the Electra on the world flight" other than the scattered references in Last Flight. I think Elgen Long says somewhere (I don't have it in front of me) that the records show she averaged 56 gph and 155 (?) mph overall on previous flights. This is interesting, but fails to tell the whole story of what figures a maximum effort flight with minimum fuel in reserve might result in. Like Chris, I always prefer the real world figures.
The Thermal Expansion issue confuses many people. The point is not that expansion of the fuel caused venting and a loss of fuel that could be "corrected." The point is that fuel is LESS DENSE at higher temperatures. If fuel weighs 6 pounds per gallon at 59 F ("standard temperature"), it weighs less than 6 pounds per gallon at 85 F, and more than 6 pounds per gallon at 43 F. If the tank is "full" with 100 gallons at 85 F, it does not hold 600 pounds, it holds some amount less (how much less is beyond the scope of this restatement). If you have only 50 gallons in a 100 gallon tank, you can compensate for the less dense fuel by adding 1 or 2 (or whatever) gallons, but if the tank is already full, you can't do anything to bring the weight of fuel in the tank up to 600 pounds. The amount of available ENERGY in the fuel is dependent upon the density (the weight) --- that's why these days we calculate by pounds per hour, rather than gallons. As a practical matter in light planes the variation is not enough to get excited about, and we simply assume a gallon is always 6 pounds, but the airlines, flying planes with huge fuel loads, do take actual weight into account both for payload and range reasons. (If you want to get absolutely the greatest fuel by weight into your tanks, the technique is to chill the fuel with dry ice, fuel the plane shortly before takeoff, and insulate the tanks with blankets to limit the heating, expansion and venting of fuel prior to takeoff. This in fact was done by Paul Mantz for the 1947 Bendix Race, and a picture of his blanket-draped Mustang is in Robert C. Mikesh, Excalibur III: The Story of a P-51 Mustang page 12 [Smithsonian Institution Press, 1978]. Charles F. Blair, Jr. bought the plane from Mantz and used it on his flight over the North Pole.)
EVEN IF the 10 E's tanks were topped off immediately before takeoff, there is simply no doubt whatever (as a matter of physics) that the fuel weighed less (and contained less energy) than it would have at standard temperature. The question is: did that deficiency in the fuel affect performance in a way that impacted adversely upon ENDURANCE of the flight at given power settings? I suspect that the answer is "no", but I am reluctant to give a categorical answer, because that question is even farther outside my field than usual, and I do not have the time or energy to get up to speed and attempt to address it in detail at this time. It really needs a good aeronautical engineer and an engine man -- both with open minds -- with a pilot to cross-examine them.
I had a few telephone conversations and some correspondence off the forum with our late friend, Birch Matthews, who was working on this and related issues for a book, and I think Birch believed that the "non-standard" atmosphere from Lae to Howland would have resulted in fuel consumption exceeding Kelly Johnson's standard atmosphere figures by around 7%. That would cause a reduction in endurance of about 2 hours. Birch was also concerned about the effect of reduced density of the fuel.Whether Birch's figures included the effect of the reduced density of the fuel or not is something I cannot say, because I did not get the opportunity to discuss that issue with him before he passed away.
[I will add that I had doubts about Birch's tentative conclusions because in light planes temperatures higher than standard cause slight decreases in fuel consumption and slight increases in airspeed at specific engine settings -- and thus efficiency (defined in miles per gallon in still air) increases with heat. In the C-210, temperatures 20 C above standard cause about a 3% increase in range. Apparently, the increased efficiency in higher temperatures more than compensates for the decreased density of the fuel.]
Individual pilot technique is of course the MOST IMPORTANT part of the endurance/range equation. Kelly Johnson might have expected 23 to 24 hours out of the 10 E with AE flying and 1100 gallons. Perhaps Mantz could have gotten 26 or 27 hours. Lindbergh --- what? 28 or 29 or even 30 or more? My favorite story illustrating the importance of the pilot at the controls is in Lindbergh's Wartime Journals pages 864-65 (entry for July 3, 1944). Lindbergh reports on his participation in a 12 plane flight (P-38's). After perhaps 4 or 5 hours (?) flying "One of the pilots reported low on fuel and was ordered to return home. Two or three minutes later a second reported his fuel tanks low and was sent back. Then a third. After that, Colonel MacDonald started back with the entire squadron. I had plenty of fuel in my tanks, having nursed the engine at minimum r.p.m and auto lean, and continued along the coast with my wingman. We found a barge up on the beach and made two runs on it. ... I then found two very small and empty barges ... and made two straffing runs on them. ... Around the next point ... I saw two barges ... so close to the high tide line that some of the tree branches overhung them ... I found that by sideslipping I could get in a good burst and that the barges were far enough apart to make two runs on each circle. After my second run, however, I noticed that my wingman was simply circling overhead. In reply to my radio query he replied that he, too, was low on fuel. I asked him how much was remaining in his tanks. He replied, 'about 175 gallons.' It was more than enough. I told him to pull his engine r.p.m down to 1,600, to put his mixture control in auto lean, and to open his throttle wide enough to stay in loose formation with me. I then set course for Owi island at an altitude of 1,000 feet and an indicated airspeed of 185 m.p.h. When we landed at Owi, he had seventy gallons left, a full hour's flight throttled down. I had 260 [sic] gallons in my tanks, although we both had exactly the same amount of fuel when we took off .. in the morning. ... We called all pilots for a meeting in the evening. I talked to them for half an hour on maximum range and fuel economy." The entry for July 14, 1944 (pages 875 - 76) recounts his flight in a P-47 from Brisbane to Horn Island, after initially being refused clearance because "a P-47 was not capable of making the flight ... without refueling." Told that the minimum fuel consumption of the P-47 was about 80 gallons per hour, Lindbergh responded that the R-2800 engine (2000 horsepower) should be capable of cruising at around 50 gallons per hour. After promising to monitor his fuel carefully and divert if it ran low, Lindbergh made the flight ("r.p.m down to 1,450 during the latter portion") arriving over Horn Island with enough fuel "to reach Nadzab[two hours farther] with almost a two-hour reserve". He landed at Horn only because he could not contact Horn Island by radio and get clearance to extend the flight plan to Nadzab.
There are any number of very difficult issues in the endurance question, and Mr. Long and others who question the "24 hour and 9 minute" figure are not necessarily being foolish. And if the Lockheed Operating Instructions really did contain headwind instructions indicating that speed should be increased by 40% of the headwind, I would consider that a very interesting fact -- since it is so obviously bad advice. I wish the forum had maintained enough rapport with Mr. Long to permit us to ask him to share the 10 E instructions with us.
I don't believe I confused maximum endurance with maximum range, but I have obviously confused Dick Pingrey, and I apologize for that. Perhaps he missed my earlier (by 10 minutes) posting in response to Herman de Wulf (Re: Altitude), which mentioned that speeding up into a headwind was a "recognized technique" and referred to reader to Peter Garrison's discussion of the problems. Garrison makes the point (Long Distance Flying pages 141 -43) that "The effect of the headwind is merely to raise the MOST EFFICIENT speed by ONE QUARTER of the headwind component -- not all speeds." If you are flying at (or near) the most efficient speed (V L/D) the technique works; if not, it does not. My mistake for breaking the discussion into two postings, and relying on the reader to put them together.
Now I am confused by Dick's comments, because I have just reread (twice) my posting, which does not mention (and does not refer to) either "maximum range" or "maximum endurance". It is simply a comparison of (what Mr. Long says was) Lockheed's specific advice with what would actually happen in the 10E (according to Lockheed's performance figures) if that advice were followed, at speeds in the 150 to 160 mph range (which are speeds for neither maximum endurance nor maximum range for the 10 E). The point is either (a) Lockheed gave the wrong advice, or (b) Mr. Long has misunderstood what Lockheed said. I would like to know whether the truth is (a) or (b). We need to see the "page from Lockheed's Operating Instructions" exhibited by Mr. Long to find that out.
Speeding up for a headwind is in fact the proper technique but only within a limited performance range. It is also a technique that is hard to perform properly, because of the many interrelated mathematical equations and variations. In an airliner or G-V today a sophisticated computer will integrate accurate information on the wind, TAS, power, fuel consumption, etc., and enable one to use the technique very well. In a less sophisicated airplane, one is thrown back upon rule of thumb. In a tellling comment on the complexity of the matter, John Anderson, in his text Aircraft Performance and Design contents himself with the observation (page 311) that "the best range [airspeed] with a headwind is higher than that for no wind ..." and suggests two other books as references for those who desire to pursue the matter analytically.
In any case, I don't have any real disagreement with most of what Dick says, and in fact think that it is simply a restatement of the point, which was not that "speeding up into a headwind never works," but was that "speeding up from 150 to 160.5 into a 26.5 headwind does not work in the 10E, and if Lockheed gave advice that caused one to conclude that that was the proper thing to do, it was bad advice."
Further to my previous posting on INTERSECTING THE LOP I am surprised to discover that my calculations correspond to a posting made in February by someone who drew up a map of the Howland/Baker area showing Howland in the middle of a 80 NM circle of uncertainty divided into sectors. Through logical thinking he ruled out all but one, eventually pointing at one area (which he named F) as the one in which AE/FN most likely intercepted the 337/157 LOP.
Looking at the drawing again it strikes me that we both come to the same conclusion through different reasoning. We both think the Electra hit upon the LOP at a point some 70 nautical miles southeast of Howland.
This is fascinating. It supports my calculations based on the Electra's fuel consumption as we know it today. When two forumites working independently come to the same conclusions and pinpoint the Electra in the same place using different techniques I think this is worth mentioning.
It also kills the Elgen Long crashed and sank theory.
I'm sorry I lost the TIGHAR member's name. Will he please stand up to be identified again?
You are all making assumptions that you have no firm basis to make. We can not say that Elgen Long was right about the headwinds when there are at least two unknown factors. We don't known the airspeed which was flown and thus we can not know the headwinds. There are many other variable which we can guess at but we really don't know. How long were Amelia and Fred in the area around Howland before they sent the, "We must be on you but can not see you" message? Do we rally know what altitude they maintained? Weather conditions could have forced them to fly higher or lower. Do we know they were on course or that they spent 15 minutes flying north on the LOP? Certainly we no not know the answer to any of these questions. A small error here and another small error there and we have major miscalculations.
Simply stated, we do not know and can not know. With at least a half a dozen variables there is no way of knowing the answer to any of these questions. There in rests the error in Elgin Long's assumptions. No one knows the answer to what really happened during the flight but we do know that the airplane was capable of flying to the vicinity of Howland and then flying the LOP and arriving at Gardner. That is the only thing we know for certain, the rest is speculation based on certain assumptions that may or may not be correct. We talk about employing the scientific method. Speculation and unprovable assumptions are not part of the scientific method.
Dick Pingrey 908C
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